Justice Joan Lobis

Applewhite, a teacher, sought an order declaring respondents’ denial of her appeal seeking to reverse an unsatisfactory rating was in bad faith and in contravention of established policies. Respondents cross-moved for dismissal, arguing the petition failed to state a cause of action. Principal Robinson gave Applewhite a U-rating based on several disciplinary letters. Applewhite appealed and objected to admissibility of the letters at a hearing, arguing they lacked her signature of receipt or documentation showing she refused to sign them. The appeal was denied and the rating sustained. Respondents argued the letters contained acknowledgment forms reflecting Applewhite’s refusal to sign them, alleging they substantially complied with the Rating Handbook and any deviation was de minimis. The court stated even accepting as true Applewhite’s claim that respondents violated the handbook, it was constrained to find the petition failed to state a cause of action, noting violations of the handbook did not equate to violations of rules guaranteeing a substantial right, thus could not serve as a basis to find denial of Applewhite’s appeal was made in violation of lawful procedure. Hence, dismissal was granted.